Test Drives

bancone interiorThe main bar and booths at Bancone

What can you tell us about Bancone?

Bancone’s an Italian restaurant by Louis Korovilas. He’s an alumni of Giorgio Locatelli (who actually happened to be eating there when we visited). Expect a combination of antipasti dishes and fresh pasta mains. So fresh that on some visits you’ll see them making the pasta in the front window.

Where is it?

Just on the edges of Covent Garden at the end of Maiden Lane, near the Chandos pub if you’re familiar with that classic boozer. The nearest tubes are either Leicester Square or Covent Garden.

What’s nearby for a quick pre-post dinner drink?

Our best recommendation would be the new (at the time of writing) wine bar Lady of the Grapes, that’s about two minutes walk down the same street.

PDRThe Bancone private dining room

Where should we sit?

If you like counter dining, then this is the right spot for you, with a huge counter space down the length of the (quite long) room. There are small booths and tables too. For larger groups, there are big tables at the back and we really did like the look of the upstairs private dining room.

In all, the restaurant is much larger than we were expecting and, although it was busy on our visit, it’s probably a very handy space to grab a counter seat if  this is a last minute decision to eat out.

And what about the food?

As mentioned, it’s a combination of antipasti and pasta dishes, which we have to admit is proving all the rage in London at the moment.

Without a doubt, the pasta dishes are the real draw here. The most obvious draw will be the 10 hour ragu, and although it’s not quite up there with Padella’s (still one of our favourite dishes in London), it’s still very good. But our real praise goes to the duck ravioli - that was served with an Barolo sauce that elevates the dish into sheer-joy territory. A must-order.

Elsewhere we’ve heard good things about the cacio e pepe, which always seems to be a good way of measuring the success of a pasta restaurant. We also think you can easily share three pasta dishes between two, but it’s worth remembering that we have quite the appetite at Hot Dinners.

Here’s what we had on the night:

breadThe honeyed garlic foccacia and Datterini tomato foccacia. Handy for mopping up pasta sauces if they last that long (the garlic one particularly).

lardoOne of the antipasti dishes - fried polenta, portobello mushroom and lardo. Because lardo makes everything better.

raguWhat will probably be one of the most popular dishes on the menu - slow-cooked 10-hour oxtail ragu with pappardelle (although the spicy pork ragu looks worth a look too).

ravioliThe dish of the night for us. Gressingham duck ravioli with Barolo and herb crumb. Pretty much like duck pasta in gravy. It's tremendously good - a must-order.

spagIt's not all about the meat, though. There are plenty of vegetarian options on the menu (including four pasta dishes when we ate there). This is spaghetti "alla chitarra" with risina beans and artichoke.

stawberriesOur sole dessert (we'd had rather a lot of pasta at this point). These are Cornish strawberries with sweet ricotta and pecan brittle (that last part being the making of the dish)

What about wines?

There’s a short (about 7-8 each red/white) and relatively good value wine list. Most are available by the carafe, with the entry level being £14.75 for a white Emilia Romagna Trebbiano or a Salento Primitivo, heading slowly upwards to the 40 mark. There are also some decent beers on offer, including Kernel (a personal favourite).

Overall

London has been spoiled with good pasta restaurants at the moment, and they’re also handily spread around town (with Padella at London Bridge, Lina Stores Soho and this serving Covent Garden). And like its predecessors, Bancone continues the trend of well-made pasta, good counter dining vibes and a very affordable price point. A good addition to Covent Garden.

 

More about Bancone

Where is it? 39 William IV Street, London, WC2N 4DD

Find out more: Visit their website or follow them on Instagram @bancone.pasta.

 

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